Thursday, 16 October 2014

Salta: Inca child sacrifice and Andean anthroplogy

Salta: Inca child sacrifice in 14century and Andean anthropology

Started the day with a long sojourn in a cool cafe reading about the appeal of Peronism which is rested on his appeal to the working classes, an ability to improve services for people combined with a sense of possibility and nationalism. I can see how it worked well here. The free government health services and free education system are still good, funded by taxes and valued by people.

My first museum stop was at the anthropological museum, Pajcha- Museo de Arte Etnico Americano, an exquisite private collection of an anthropologist who has been working in this region for 30 years. She had journeyed to Cusco traversing the Andean region collecting artefacts, beautiful textiles, brooches and clay figures. They were beautifully displayed over two floors of a house. She was interested in religious iconography and documented the changing depiction of Christ and saints who have acquired local characteristics. St James was very important here. I was taken around the museum solo by a very enthusiastic Keeper who pointed out all the cultural highlights out to me but did not leave me with enough time to browse.

Later I went to the Museum of high altitude archaeology (MAAM) which Andrew Rice would have loved. This is on the main square and is a big local draw. Locals discovered an Inca tomb atop a volcano and in 1999 excavated three children who had been placed there. There was an excellent exposition of the Incan way of life and how these children would have travelled to Cusco for a national celebration and then returned to their locality. They were probably drugged and then froze to death, their death appears to have been peaceful and they were then sat cross legged and entombed on the mountain too. It appears to have been a sacrifice that had multiple aspects, social bonding and being part of the Inca way of life, intercession for good luck and linking the living with ancestors. I suspect that the families felt that it was an honour to be part of this. It is not dissimilar to boys going into the church. There was an excellent video showing the different aspects of the excavation and a medical analysis, CT analysis has shown that the girl had obliterating bronchiolitis. The oldest was a 15 year old, then there was a 7 year old boy and a 4 year old girl. Fascinating stuff.

I had an afternoon of running around in the heat booking a trip to Andean villages instead of the non-existent Tren Los Nubes. Had a nice evening sitting in a open air cafe with pop music and people in their twenties.

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